“What you saw,” says Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright), “did not happen. Keeping order is my job. This breaks the world.” What LAPD cop/blade runner “K” (Ryan Gosling) saw, I cannot disclose. Director Denis Villeneuve asks all who write about his splendid sci-fi thriller, “Blade Runner 2049,” to be scrupulously careful about spoilers. So — more about its plot, I cannot say. See it for yourself but don’t give away the plot.
Did this sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic 1982 “Blade Runner” blow me away? Will I see it again? Should you see it? “Yes,” to all these questions.
Ryan Gosling’s introspective LAPD officer K tracks and “retires” (destroys) older model replicants (androids) manufactured 35 years before by their inventor, evil genius Dr. Tyrell (Joe Turkel played him in the first film). Jared Leto is equally evil Niander Wallace, manufacturer of advanced second generation replicants that work as slaves in an exploitative economy. “We need more replicants,” says Wallace, “than we now can create.” Harrison Ford is blade runner Rick Deckard, central character in 1982, now a recluse, living — with his dog — in an abandoned LA hotel. Gosling, Ford and Leto (in a cameo) are excellent in their roles.
Others in the large cast include Robin Wright as K’s no-nonsense commanding officer, Lt. Joshi, and Ana de Armas as Joi, K’s hologram girlfriend, programmed to look perfect and say only what he wants to hear. “You were right,” K says. “You were right about everything.” Dave Bautista is first generation android Sapper Morton, Sylvia Hoeks plays murderess replicant (ironically named) Luv, and David Dastmatchian is research replicant Coco.
“Blade Runner 2049” offers homage to its 1982 source, but also extends and expands the original film. Denis Villeneuve says, “As director, I wanted to be … specifically true to film noir … and I wanted the atmosphere to carry the beautiful melancholy … so powerful in the first movie.” He succeeds in both aspirations — “BR 2049” is dark, as film noir should be, and heart-breakingly gorgeous, one stunning shot after another. Hampton Fancher and Michael Green wrote the dense, compelling script, with characters from Phillip K. Dick’s novel. The film is an ambitious enterprise — visually, thanks to Roger Deakins’ photography and Dennis Gassner’s production design — and philosophically as it addresses serious questions: How do we know what it is that makes us human? How do we know we have a soul?
Rated R for violence, sexuality, nudity, and language, “BR2049” runs 163 minutes, too long, but it’s worth it. For adults. See it once. See it again.
“Blade Runner” sequel,
Dark, gorgeous, compelling —
See it a second time.